This new season-long mini-series is brought to you by the RotoUnderworld Game Analyst Team. The Game Analyst Team consists of over 75 individuals that chart and re-watch every snap from every game in the NFL between game end, and Monday afternoon. The guys you have generally not heard from before stop in to drop some tidbits from their weekly game charting process in hopes to give us a sneak peek into the depth of the games each Sunday. As the Head Game Analyst – I charted for two years and this idea was always in the back of my mind. People always share the broken-down, clean, processed reviews of games in the NFL. That’s not what this is. I asked everyone to gives me some Notes or Takeaways from their game this past week, and below are the raw responses I received.
Josh Allen‘s arm is ridiculous, and the Bills give him a ton of freedom to improvise. It sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, but it’s perfect for his skill set. When the protection breaks down, it almost feels like controlled chaos as opposed to the actual chaos it was in his first two years in the league.
Emmanuel Sanders looks like the perfect addition to this offense, the missing piece from last year. On more than one occasion, he was able to shake loose of coverage and find a soft spot for an improvising Allen. These two have a nice connection early on.
The Bills looked so much quicker than Washington, especially late, but even early. Their ability to rotate in five or six different receivers who’re all capable of doing different things is wearing down defenses and keeping the skill position players fresh – Mike Wagenman
Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense seem to be getting closer to mid-season form after their test against a strong Washington front. The majority of plays are utilizing their base personnel of Diggs, Sanders, Beasley, Knox, and Singletary in a variety of formations. Moss is getting more and more involved as the season progresses and it appears to be a true RBBC for the foreseeable future. Though Dawson Knox has caught a couple of touchdowns in the last 2 weeks and has good route participation and almost all the TE snaps for Buffalo, Allen tends to favor targeting the wideouts. Based on snap percentage and participation, I would project Sanders and Beasley to continue to see a healthy target volume and both remain WR3/Flex options with WR2 upside if the TDs fall their way. Despite drawing shadow coverage for most of the game Diggs remains the true #1 in this system and is Allen’s go-to read most of the time. If Buffalo can clean up some of the mistakes and execute how they are capable, they will be very dangerous going forward. – Greg Wagner
The Bengal’s offensive line did not give up a sack against the Steelers. That’s probably more of an indictment on how bad the defensive front is without T.J. Watt, But noteworthy because it shows that the Bengal’s offensive line can take advantage of opportunistic matchups. Also, Ja’Marr Chase just effortlessly gliding by defensive backs was a treat to watch. – Jonathan Lange
Ravens stacked the box more than anyone I’ve charted so far this year, and most of the time it was anywhere from 5-7 guys directly on the LOS.
As talked about all offseason by Anthony Lynn, the lions did use D’Andre Swift in very creative ways. Unique screens, jet sweeps, etc. Getting him into space where he’s able to get tons of YAC. Very exciting to watch.
Kalif Raymond had a very good game. 6-68 and yet there were still a few downfield targets that he and Goff couldn’t connect on.
Trinity Benson is getting a lot of snaps but hasn’t really done all that much yet.
Lights! Camera! DROOOOP! (In the Lil’ Jon voice) Man oh man, Marquise Brown could’ve had a day! If he didn’t channel his inner Hot Hands this game would’ve been over in the first half. In all fairness to him, his first drop in the endzone the defensive back did tip it to throw off the ball flight, but the other two drops were egregious. If I was Harbaugh I would’ve had him on the sidelines doing pushups like Willie Mayes Hayes after each. The only positive is I’m sure Hollywood will show up in the PlayerProfiler DFS lineup genius next week given the number of unrealized air yards he logged today.
Other than that, what you see is what you get with the Ravens. It’s Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, and Hollywood at the moment. It was nice to see Andrews get back in the mix and he seemed to have a healthy aDOT after being bottled up by the Chiefs. You can ignore the Devin Duvernay touchdown as that came on a blown coverage and he was wide open. Outside of the three listed above all other Ravens pass catchers are nonexistent. The same can be said of the run game. I wouldn’t start any of these guys in redraft moving forward and possibly dynasty unless you need a BYE week or injury replacement. It’s Ty’Son Williams and Latavius Murray getting most of the carries with some Devonta Freeman sprinkled. Ravens RB Roulette! Not a game you want to play!
One thing I found interesting after watching both Chiefs and Lions games now it seems like teams are daring Lamar to throw the ball more. They are crowding the line with 6- and 7-man boxes based on Raven formations and predominantly dropping back into zone pushing him to throw in tighter windows. – Ryan Moloney
As a 7 point home favorite, this would be a spot to start both Cleveland’s backs. That theory proves to be true as the Browns leaned into their identity. In the 2nd half, Cleveland ran 21 called runs versus 11 pass plays.
Opportunity does not match the talent for Donovan Peoples-Jones in this spot. Not enough volume, even with Jarvis Landry out, for him to make an impact. But he could be a flex consideration in the future featuring a high Vegas total and an opponent with a competent offense.
Baker Mayfield has underrated arm strength. When given a clean pocket, he displays well above average accuracy. On 50/50 balls, Baker puts the football where only his receiver can make a play on the ball. This is most evident on a deep shot to start the 4th quarter when Odell Beckham Jr. makes a spectacular catch over Jaylon Johnson (Bears #1 corner) but could not keep his feet in bounds.
Speaking of Beckham, considering this was his first game in almost a year after tearing up his knee, he looked great. Not as sharp as he normally is coming in and out of his breaks, but the chemistry between him and Baker is apparent.
Kendrick Bourne‘s role increased massively this week, compiling 143 air yards on 8 targets en route to the team’s best fantasy performance. Need to see it again to trust it but he could be the #2 in the offense.
Brandon Bolden replaced James White‘s role following his injury. I can’t imagine that stays the case as JJ Taylor continues to receive opportunities. However, the coach’s refusal to play him at all when down 15 does not bode well for Taylor’s immediate production (for what it’s worth I think benching Taylor was a mistake).
Jonnu Smith looked bad in the passing game. Most of his targets were tight-window throws and he could only come up with one reception. Most of his incompletions were drops.
Josh McDaniels really dropped the ball as an OC. No creativity in a game where you’re missing your right tackle. The Patriots ran basically the same formation the entire last drive where they were down 15 and dinking-and-dunking down the field, taking the final 2:37 to go 50 yards. With the speed that their receiving core has, this is inexcusable. – Matt Babich
The Jets are still the worst team in the league and it’s not even close.
Rushing – Denver ran the ball just ok, nothing spectacular at all 37 attempts for 121 yards, The Longest was 14 yards by Javonte Williams.
The biggest takeaway is AGAIN, 3rd down efficiency… Just 4-11 this week. I would say that they’re in trouble, but the schedule honestly isn’t too bad. The tough division matchups aren’t until AFTER their bye in Week 11… KC twice, LAC twice, and on the road in Vegas. – Chuck Passe
Vegas’ win against Miami revealed some relieving things about this Dolphins team after getting shut out by Buffalo in Week 2.
The Raiders acknowledged a weak Miami Offensive Line and opted to present minimal pressure in the box, often 2 or 3 for more dynamic pressure options either dropping back or assisting in edge pressure. As a result, the Dolphins found their greatest successes on the ground with running TD’s from Malcolm Brown and Jacoby Brissett with Myles Gaskins as the preferred back of the team. Starting a Dolphin back beyond a necessary flex is ill-advised, you will be counting on disrespect for the Dolphins Offensive Line to generate your greatest opportunities.
Mike Gesicki was the most prolific target in this game and overall the catching unit was below par. Fantasy was partially redeemed with volume for Gesicki and Jaylen Waddle. Moving forward there is room for optimism coming out of this loss. All pass receivers saw deep shots downfield with pass interference vindicating several of these attempts with no turnovers through the air. This should provide enough dynamism to keep defenses honest. Also, it’s hard to determine how much is lost without Tua Tagovailoa as this unit looked approximately as effective as they did in week 1 against the Patriots. Will Fuller did play in this game, he stretched the field a few times and found himself injured in overtime, his presence did cut into Devante Parker’s volume.
This game is a significant improvement over last week where The Bill’s high-pressure approach generated concerns about deep shots being viable at all with this team. They did get outplayed by the Raiders, a defensive touch town, and multiple 4th and long conversions kept them competitive into overtime but this game displays the coaching staff is trying to get the most out of what they have. Miami will likely continue to be a below-average team but line play can improve with aforementioned quality leaders and attrition diminishing the impact of all units generally across the league. – Robert Oberlander
Derek Carr Once again put the team on his back and delivered another 350 passing yards performance. His 3rd this year. 5 in a row if you’re counting the last 2 games of the 2020 season. He spread the ball around to 9 different recovers. Hunter Renfrow led the way in fantasy scoring with 6 targets/5 receptions for 77 yards and a TD. Henry Ruggs – 7 targets, Bryan Edwards – 5 targets, and Darren Waller – 7 targets.
The Steelers Offensive Line is in disarray right now and Big Ben (and the entire offense) is suffering because of it. Najee Harris had few running lanes so the majority of his production came from short passes (14 receptions). The lack of time in the pocket along with the absence of Diontae Johnson led to a subpar game from Big Ben. On a brighter note, rookie TE, Pat Freiermuth, caught the first TD pass of his career which was also the only Steelers TD of the day. It was interesting that he saw a lower snap count than fellow TE, Eric Ebron, after out snapping him in the first two weeks, but he’s seeing more targets so I think it is only a matter of time before he earns a significant share. – Jerel Bawayan
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers seemed to use a lot of I-Formation, often using a tight end in the full-back role. They also brought in #79 as a 6th linemen on multiple plays. These formations and extra blockers seemed to neutralize the pass rush. I did not notice Ekler blocking often, which might explain the formations using extra protection. – Adam Verdugo
The Colts are in an offensive purgatory until they can form something that resembles a good O Line. With that said, a 2nd half Parris Campbell breakout is bubbling under the surface. Lining up on the wide side of the field most snaps, the Colts are giving him all the room necessary to use his 97th percentile burst score to his advantage. When Carson Wentz has more than 3 seconds to throw lookout.
Nyheim Hines continues to be a massive thorn in Jonathan Taylors’ side. While soaking up nearly 100% of the 2 minute and hurry-up offense, Hines is a consistent flex option. Taylor will need to be uber-efficient on his carries behind an injury tanked line in order to stay in the RB1 conversation – Jon Adams
Finally, KC’s RBs get more involved & see success in the passing game with screenplays. Just not going to see many dump-offs to the RBs, but Reid built his early career designing screenplays. The more the O-Line gels, hopefully, the more screenplays we see.
Ground game becoming more efficient as well. Signs that the O-Line is coming together, or just a poor LAC run defense.
So far the book on defeating/competing with KC is to play two deep safeties or deep 3rds keeping everything in front of them. KC moving the ball efficiently, but making costly mistakes/turnovers, not finishing drives.
Chiefs are a team built to play with a lead, will continue to find it hard to put teams away without eliminating the mistakes and playing to their strengths on both sides of the ball.
KC is 1-11 against the spread in their last 12 games @hammerdahn
The defense is good enough to keep them in games if the offense can take care of the ball and sustain drives. Mac Jones was under pressure all day and didn’t handle it well. He tries to force throws late and off his back foot while under pressure way too often. – Jaylan Glenn
Brandin Cooks lined up in the backfield as the RB in single-back sets on more than a few occasions. He was used all over the field and ran a plethora of routes at all levels. He beat the press, he beat cushion. He beat man, he beat zone.
Houston found a variety of ways to get the ball to their only playmaker on offense. Due to the target volume, he’ll receive and Cooks level of talent, he may be matchup-proof. He needs to stop being treated as a WR3 and more like a high-end WR2/low-end WR1, which is what he’s been his entire career besides for one year.
Jaycee Horn is already establishing himself as an alpha corner. He drew the toughest assignment on the Carolina side, primarily lining up across from Cooks. He performed well and Cooks got the majority of his receptions when covered by other defenders. Horn was also used in a number of blitz packages, showing his versatility as a corner. He’s big, he’s fast and he could turn into a shutdown corner in the future.
David Johnson ran some of the most disinterested routes I’ve ever seen. My, how the mighty have fallen.
David Mills made some good throws when he had time to throw, but Carolina’s pass rush was ferocious, with Brian Burns and Haason Reddick forming a formidable duo. He could prove to be somewhat competent while filling in for Tyrod, but let’s be honest. His only role is to sustain Brandon Cooks’s fantasy value and I think he will. – Brett Hewling
Let’s do some quick math: An immobile QB with 2 sprained ankles + a team with a “run first” identity + one-score game for three quarters = 10 rushing attempts for Jonathan Taylor.
Somethings not adding up… has the new in-season hard knocks special clouted the head of Carson Wentz? He threw the ball 37 times and was not effective, to say the least. On the other hand, Taylor averaged 6.3 YPC on his rushing attempts and looked Chubb-Esque. Get the ball in his hands. And yes, we get it. You paid Nyheim Hines. But don’t let that deter you from also using Taylor. I reckon the Colts will figure this out with easier matchups in the next few weeks. Don’t sell Taylor low, buy Hines just in case, and throw in Pittman if you can get him for the Cheap.
It’s official. Derrick Henry is now catching passes. Henry has averaged 4.3 targets in the last 3 games. With CMC and Cooks banged up, Henry may take the thrown as the best fantasy asset right now. In the unlikely situation that fantasy managers don’t realize this yet, trade for him wherever you can. Tannehill bounced back just fine after a few underwhelming games. He ran the ball for 56 yards and was unlucky on his second interception of the day. With the Jets and Jags next, I expect Tannehill and Henry to eat… but conservatively, as both these games will probably not result in a shootout.
Now the tough part… A.J. Brown.
We must not forget that through 4 weeks last year, A.J. Brown had a total of 8.9 PPR Fantasy points. Now, I don’t think he will magically start producing after he comes back from injury, but I am confident that the titans will need him later in the season when the schedule starts to become more challenging (BUF week 6, K.C. week 7, LAR week 9). If you can afford it, keep him on your roster. If you are 0-3, you probably can’t sell him for much, but if you get good value.. take it. While the media tries to write a false narrative of a clash with the Titans coach and Julio, that is simply not the case. Julio was sidelined late in the game due to precautionary measures.
With Brown out, Julio will see an increased target share in the coming weeks and is a great buy for the right price. Temper expectations though, He is not a WR1 but a swinging WR2 depending on game script. – Ahmed Hassan
Buffalo is real, after a Week 1 loss to Pittsburgh, Buffalo bounced back with wins over Miami and Washington with a combined score of 78-21. After Houston in Week 4, Buffalo gets two 2020 AFC playoff opponents with Kansas City and Tennessee. With the AFC East, and South thought to be narrowed down, we focus on the AFC West for the next few weeks. The Undefeated Las Vegas Raiders play the 2-1 LA Chargers that just came off of a win at Arrowhead over Kansas City. per Chuck Passe in who charts the Denver Broncos, they have struggled on 3rd down all season but have played below-average teams, down Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler I am excited to see Denver play Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, and Cleveland over the next 4 weeks.